Warning. How to Die in Oregon is hard to watch. Critics are a hard lot. Though I’ve come close a couple of times, movies don’t make me cry. How to Die in Oregon had me bawling like a baby from start to finish. My guess is you will too.
That said, you, your loved ones and friends need to see this important documentary.
Four states allow death with dignity. In 1994, Oregon became the first to let a person with a terminal illness get the prescription drugs necessary to legally take their own life. In 2008, Washington voters said yes to a similar law. Montana and Vermont followed.
The film opens with a terminally ill man ending his life. With family and friends standing by for support, the man drank a concoction to quickly put him into a coma and kill him. The decision was clearly his.
Whoa. So not ready.
Then Peter Richardson’s movie starts asking questions. In the case of terminal illness like cancer, is an extra three months of pain-filled, drug-addled life really living? Is it worth it to the victim? Or to the family and friends of the victim?
Shouldn’t we all be able to choose a time and place to die, and share the experience with loved ones in a more positive way? Shouldn’t a terminally ill patient be able to choose death when they have all their faculties and can have more dignity because certain bodily functions are still intact?
Is it even fair to deny someone the right to die?
We love our pets and don’t allow them to suffer, and we don’t spend our life savings to keep them alive. Why do we force horrible, painful death upon humans? And on the eloquent arguments go.
Richardson’s documentary does — however — have warts.
Moral concerns are not addressed. Could this eventually lead to death without a person’s consent? Do laws like these lead government and health care firms to deny expensive treatment to terminally ill patients?
Faith and life after death are left out. Only one person in the film talks about their faith and about what they think happens when they die. Richardson, the doctors and the people promoting death with dignity, and even the patients and families facing a loved one’s death, never call it death. We end life. We come to a conclusion.
It is so sanitized.
Death sucks. Young, productive lives end in hideous, untimely ways. The same happens to older people who should be enjoying carefree retirement years with loved ones. But we all face it. Thus Richardson says euthanasia — which means good death — may be a good thing.
Really? Is there such a thing? How to Die in Oregon says there might be. Maybe.